Upper Back Pain Treatment
Upper back pain is a common health complaint that can quickly affect your quality of life. While it’s slightly less common than lower back pain and neck pain, the relevance is still quite high. In the U.S., approximately than 10% of men and 20% of women experience upper back pain each year. If you’re suffering from this type of pain, thankfully there are a few great upper back pain treatment options that you can try to get back to a normal life.
One particular treatment option that we will dive into today, known for its effectiveness and holistic approach, is chiropractic for upper back pain.
The Thoracic Spine
The upper back is also known as the thoracic spine. It is composed of 12 vertebrae that also articulate with the ribs. It is also referred to as the mid-back since it is literally the area between the neck (cervical spine) and low back (lumbar spine). The thoracic spine plays a key role in body function, including helping house vital organs like the lungs and heart by creating a protective “cage” with the rubs. Additionally, surrounding muscles and connective tissue that attach to the midback promote optimal breathing patterns, coordinated arm movement, and provide innate trunk stability.
With so many moving parts that are all intricately interconnected in the thoracic spine, it’s easy to see how any type of dysfunction of the area can lead to major problems over time. This is exactly why chiropractic care is ideal for any upper back issues, since they understand the importance of optimizing the delicate balance in this area to promote the best possible function. If you know your thoracic spine is out of balance, consider getting in touch with the team at Advanced Spine and Rehab in Las Vegas, NV to get started with chiropractic for upper back pain.
Risk Factors Contributing to Upper Back Pain
The upper back ecompasses a very large area of the body. Thus, there are many different underlying issues and comorbidities that can cause the onset of pain. There are a few primary factors that can leave you feeling stiff and sore. These most often include, but are not limited to, the following:
- A high impact injury. This is typically caused by a direct blow or rotational pressure that injures local tissues. This could be from a motor vehicle accident, sports injury, fall, and more.
- Poor posture. We are all guilty of poor posture from time to time and can usually tell when we need to adjust our position to reduce the onset of stiffness and pain. However, chronic bad posture in sitting, standing, or sleeping can have some major consequences for your upper back mechanics and spine alignment, leading to unwanted symptoms.
- Overuse injuries. Like any joint, the thoracic spine is more susceptible to injury when exposed to repetitive motions that strain local tissues. Repetitive bending, lifting, and twisting are the most common culprits, especially when all three moves are done in combination.
- Poor shoulder mechanics. The thoracic spine and shoulders work together biomechanically to coordinate meaningful upper body movements. Shoulder pain, injury, and general dysfunction can put unnecessary strain on the thoracic spine (and vice versa).
What Tissues are Affected with Upper Back Pain?
Now that you understand some of the major causes of upper back pain, you may be wondering what tissues are actually causing the pain to begin with. The type of pain can vary too, such as painful breathing, sharp pain, aching, pain with arms use, and more. Typically, more than one area is contributing to your upper back pain at once. Having a health professional help differentiate which specific tissues are contributing to your pain can help you get started effectively with the best treatment plan possible.
- Myofascial pain. Muscle spasms, knots, and general stiffness are all common with upper back pain. The commonly affected large muscle groups, such as the trapezius muscles, in this area can leave your entire trunk feeling sore.
- Herniated disc or some other form of spine degeneration. The thoracic spine is slightly less susceptible to degeneration in comparison to other areas of the spine. Yet, it can still wear and tear with aging, overuse, past injuries and more. Degeneration can lead to compression on the spinal cord or nerve roots that lead to symptoms of pain and weakness.
- Joint dysfunction. With the 12 vertebrae and ribs in the thoracic spine, there are more than 30 joint articulations that can get irritated and be a direct source of pain. Joints can be hypermobile (too much movement), hypomobile (not enough movement), and/or out of alignment.
- Nerve dysfunction. Compression, stretching, or misalignment in the thoracic spine itself (or in peripheral nerve roots along the spine or the chest) can lead to symptoms. For example, thoracic outlet syndrome is caused by compression to local nerves (known as the brachial plexus) and blood vessels within the chest muscles that leaves the upper back and arms sore.
- Spine misalignment. Poor spine alignment is a common culprit of upper back pain that coincides with all of the above mentioned causes. When the spine is misaligned, imbalances occur and nerve flow is impeded to effectively carry out basic body functions.
When to See Your Chiropractor
While there is less scientific research about upper back pain, there are still plenty of high quality articles supporting holistic treatment options for preventing, managing, and recovering from this type of complaint. Ideally, holistic treatment that focuses on restoring balance is typically the better choice over more invasive options like medication and injections. Options like physical therapy, acupuncture, massage therapy, and chiropractic care are among the top recommendations. Of these, chiropractic care is one of the few options that offers a long term strategy for a sustainable recovery.
When is chiropractic care indicated? Below are just a few of the top reasons:
- When home remedies like rest, stretching, and self-massage just aren’t working after a period of 1 to 2 weeks
- If you are concerned about future injury due to a pre-existing condition (such scoliosis), genetics, posture, or work demands, then seeking preventative care is a great idea
- Trauma to the back or shoulders always warrants immediate treatment to prevent unnecessary future complications and address the injury head on
- Chronic pain can lead to changes in your body function and quickly change your quality of life- don’t settle for this and get care as soon as possible
- Any reason that results in a reduced quality of life or simply feeling “off”- the holistic nature of chiropractic care can help you feel your absolute best
Chiropractic Treatment Options for Upper Back Pain
Getting chiropractic care for upper back pain is practically a no brainer. What can you expect? A mix of effective treatment techniques that are tailored to your specific needs and preferences. If you want access to the top treatment protocols on the market, consider seeking care from a chiropractor certified in Chiropractic BioPhysics (CBP). This elite evidence based certification ensures that your diagnosis and prescribed treatment follow a rigorously tested protocol that yields the best possible results. Below are just a few of the options that you might encounter during your visits.
- Manual therapy (massage, traction, etc.) to address myofascial pain and other muscle imbalances
- Spine adjustments to promote optimal joint mobility and spine alignment. Spine realignment is usually the primary focus with care to ensure the best possible nerve flow. This allows the upper back to function with less risk of strain and heal itself better.
- Ergonomic/posture training for long term results. Once your spine is better aligned, you will want to keep it that way by avoiding poor postures. Your chiropractor can guide you to optimal ergonomic positions for sitting at your desk, on the couch, standing, walking, and any other activities you regularly participate in.
- Exercise training to maximize your spine alignment and biomechanics. Muscles and joints that work in harmony will keep your upper back feeling it’s best. Plus, exercise keeps blood flowing and local tissues as healthy as possible.
- Pain relieving modalities for getting quick pain relief without the need for medications with potentially nasty side effects. You might do these in the clinic itself or get recommendations for home treatment options and remedies. These might include heating pads, cold packs, electrical stimulation (TENS), ultrasound, self-massage, and more.
Effectively Managing Your Upper Back Pain
Chiropractic care is effective and safe for most causes of upper back pain. Getting care sooner than later will greatly improve your chances of a successful recovery. Although, it’s never too late to get started either. It’s 100% worth finding a chiropractor, specifically a CBP care provider if possible, in your area. If you live in the Vegas area, your next step is to call the elite and dedicated team at Advanced Spine and Posture to book your first consultation and say goodbye to unnecessary back pain. They are CBP certified and ready to help you with your back pain concerns.